Technology

Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes conclude defense in fraud trial

Attorneys for Elizabeth Holmes rested their case on Wednesday after the Theranos founder took the stand for seven days in her own fraud trial.

Holmes, the founder of the now-defunct health technology startup, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud for her alleged involvement in a purported multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors and a separate plot to swindle doctors and patients.

Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos who dated Holmes for more than 10 years, was also charged for his involvement in the schemes. His trial is scheduled for next year.

The two claimed their company provided technology to conduct clinical tests on small amounts of blood.

Holmes’ trial began in September.

During her trial, 37-year-old sought to convey that she did not mean to deceive anyone when serving as chief executive of Theranos, asserting that any information she disseminated came from experts within the company, according to The New York Times.

She also testified that she was interested in looking ahead at what Theranos could achieve in the years to come.

“I wanted to convey the impact,” Holmes said, according to the Times, while talking about information she allegedly conveyed to investors, patients and the press about her company.

“I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month, they were interested in what kind of change we could make,” she added.

Asked by assistant U.S. attorney and lead prosecutor Robert Leach if she understood that individuals “were entitled to truthful answers about Theranos’s capabilities,” Holmes responded “of course,” according to the Times.

She also at times admitted mistakes she and the company had made, the newspaper reported. At one point during cross examination the founder said her handling of The Wall Street Journal’s investigation into the company was a “disaster,” adding “we totally messed it up.”

She also said she regretted including the logos of pharmaceutical companies on validation reports she sent to investors when they had not endorsed the technology.

Leach, during his cross examination on Tuesday, sought to illustrate that Holmes knew she was deceiving individuals about Theranos’s technology, the newspaper reported.

Holmes also testified that Balwani emotionally and physically abused her. She said the former Theranos president was critical of her, managed what she ate and her schedule and blocked her from seeing her family because he thought they were distracting, the Times reported.

At one point, Holmes said, Balwani told her to “kill” her old self to rebirth herself as a new, successful entrepreneur.

She also accused her ex-boyfriend and business partner of rape, testifying that “He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me.” She became emotional while talking about the interaction, according to the Times.

Holmes’s former parter has vehemently denied claims of abuse in legal filings submitted before the trial. 

Balwani split with Theranos in 2016 following a regulatory inspection that brought to light problems within the company’s labs, according to the Times.

The disgraced chief executive also reportedly worked to place the onus of Theranos’s failures on other individuals, including the company’s lab director, Adam Rosendorff and Vice President Daniel Young, the newspaper reported. She also argued that her board of directors should have offered her better advice and guidance.

If convicted, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison. She created Theranos when she was a 19-year-old student at Stanford University before dropping out of school.

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